We entered this general election campaign with child poverty at 4 million, projected to rise to 5.1 million by the end of the next parliament (assuming it’s a five-year term). The next government must get to grips with the underlying causes of poverty to make sure all children have a great start in life – and the opportunity to thrive. We have set out the practical steps politicians can take after 8 June to tackle child poverty.
Today’s awful figures tells us several things. Child poverty is high. It’s rising – it’s jumped to 4 million. Two thirds of poor children come from working families. But perhaps the main lesson to take away is that we need to call time on the unfathomable Whitehall orthodoxy, driven by George Osborne but still in place under Theresa May, that rising child poverty is a price worth paying to protect our children.
Today’s Guardian covered new analysis by CPAG and IPPR on the impact of cuts to universal credit. This analysis shows that universal credit cuts will hit families with children hardest, and will be poverty-producing to the tune of around a million children (comparing universal credit as originally designed with its current form).
The mood around welfare cuts may finally be shifting. The new work and pensions secretary Damian Green has explicitly sought to distance himself from the stance of the past six years by stating that there "will be no new search for cuts in individual welfare benefits".
Our Legal Officer Mike Spencer has headed off to a secondment at the Supreme Court, so we caught up with him before he went on the highs and lows of fighting CPAG’s legal battles on behalf of children in poverty.
This autumn the benefit cap will be cut, squeezing low-income families even further and pushing more people into poverty. The Welfare Reform & Work Act 2016 lowers the cap to £23,000 per annum for families (or £15,410 for single claimants) in London and £20,000 for families (or £13,400 for single claimants) outside of London.
We started providing welfare rights advice to clients of the Tower Hamlets Foodbank as part of First Love Foundation’s Advice & Support project almost three years ago, thanks to help from the Pears Foundation. It’s now been a year since the project was scaled up with support from the Big Lottery Fund and I joined the team.